KAHNWEILER Daniel Henry
(1884-1979). Born in 1884 in Mannheim, Germany. When he was eighteen he went to Paris and spent three years there before arriving in London, where his uncle began to train him for a career in banking. But his passion for art history and painting soon made him neglect his work at the stockbroker's with whom he had been placed, in favour of long hours in museums. It was not long before he threw over his banking career. On his return to Paris in 1907, when Fauvism was triumphing at the Salon des Indépendants, he opened a picture gallery which rapidly became famous. Initially he knew nothing about the art trade and simply bought what he liked, his first purchases being paintings of the Fauves--Braque, Derain, Vlaminck, Van Dongen, then Braque, Picasso, Léger and Juan Gris. In 1908 he exhibited Braque's first Cubist canvases after they had been refused at the Salon d'Automne.
He not only materially supported the Cubist painters but also took up his pen in their defence. In 1909 he began his series of art books with Apollinaire's L'Enchanteur Pourrissant, with woodcuts by Derain, then Saint Matorel by Max Jacob, with etchings by Picasso. During the 1914- 1918 war Kahnweiler retired to Switzerland. In his absence, his belongings were confiscated and his collection dispersed at an absurdly low price, despite the efforts of his painter friends. After the Armistice he returned to Paris, and with his friend André Simon opened a new gallery in the Rue d'Astorg. In 1920 Kahnweiler published three works: one by Vlaminck, another by Derain, and one in German, Der Weg zum Kubismus. Kahnweiler's house in Boulogne became an artistic centre frequented by avantgarde writers and painters. New artists were shown at his gallery: with the sculptors Manolo and Henri Laurens there were Masson, Beaudin, Suzanne Roger, Roux and Kermadec. He became a French citizen in 1937. During the Second World War Kahnweiler sought refuge in the unoccupied zone of France, after placing the management of his gallery in the hands of his sister-in-law, Louise Leiris. He was a friend and supporter of Gris. Kahnweiler wrote his book on Juan Gris, the standard work on the artist, which was published in 1946. In it he showed that knowledge, insight and faith which, throughout his career, he has put at the service of a cause of which he has been one of the most lucid and ardent defenders. In 1961 he published an autobiography, Mes Galeries et mes peintres; in the introduction to the English translation, My Galleries and Painters ( 1971), John Russell wrote: 'Where the old-style dealers did their artists a favour by inviting them to luncheon, Kahnweiler lived with Picasso, Braque, Gris, Derain, and Vlaminck on a dayto-day, hour-to-hour basis. The important thing was not so much that they should sell as that they should be free to get on with their work; and Kahnweiler, by making this possible, helped to bring into being what now seems to us that last great flowering of French art.'